Friday, October 18, 2013

End-of-Week Swanland (10/18/13)

Lack of focus is my great nemesis in this life.
Perhaps it's Adult ADD. Perhaps not. I've never been formally diagnosed.
But, here I am today, having jumped onto another book in my library...having jumped away from my long, slow reading of Jack Vance's Dying Earth. It was back in May that I vowed, after Mr. Vance's death, to finally finish reading his Dying Earth tales.
Sooo, it's October. And I'm not done reading Mr. Vance's seminal work.
I'm also jumping around between various other fiction and non-fiction works.
Oops again.
So, I've resolved to give myself some reading structure. I'm going to push myself to start reading all the books I haven't read in my collection, using my bookcases at home as a guide. Meaning, I'm starting with the books on the top of my bookcase, and reading only what's on that shelf until all the books there are done. Then I will move down to the next shelf, and so on.
I am DETERMINED to do this! I am determined to find the time to read again. If this means less TV and other distractions, all the better, right?
Wish me luck. Oh, this brings me back to the cover art for the Chronicles of the Black Company omnibus. Surreal art by Raymond Swanland. Initially, as I saw Mr. Swanland's work begin to grace fantasy book covers, I was a bit turned off by his pieces. But his work has grown on me.
Folks, I hope you have a great weekend! If you're going to be gaming, roll some dice for me!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Early-Morning Clarity, Personal Growth, and Roleplaying - Part 2

That horizon looks ever so inviting, does it not?
So, following on from my first post in this two-parter...
Last post, I spewed some stream-of-consciousness stuff about wanting an RPG for busy adults...didn't really get any advice from the community, so...just wondering if there's any advice out there...
Anyway, onto this here current post. I'm ramping things up in my life, folks. I'm increasing my participation in extracurriculars that I hope will open new opportunities for my career as well as me as an individual soul. Suffice to say I'm seeking greater success and peace of mind/soul in my life. I won't get into all the particulars, but I'm increasing my opportunities to educate myself and broaden my opportunities and horizons.
So, therefore, something has to give, and unfortunately I think that has to be some aspect of my roleplaying life. I think it means I need to put my very-young, recently-started Dragon Age campaign on hold. I think it means I need to shift back to being a player when I can make it to Wednesday nights at the FLGS. Hey, any roleplaying is good roleplaying, I say!
Look, I'm not crying over here. It's my choice to participate in activities in my spare time that take away from my RPG time, especially my ability to be a GM. If I can't GM up to my own standards, I won't do it. I think my group will understand. I miss my fellow gamers very much, I haven't seen them in over a month!
Ironically, despite all of my stuff going on, I think I'm going to have time to make this here blog into a "pro-Dragonlance" blog of sorts. You'll see what I mean...stay tuned.

Friday, October 11, 2013

End-of-Week Parkinson 10/11/13

No Elmore art this week...but at least it's Dragonlance! This week I'm giving you a piece from the great Keith Parkinson, one of my other favorite artists. Here are Sturm and Flint, of Companions of the Lance fame. Then there's some other guy in the background...not sure who he is.
I'm dreaming of gaming, folks. I miss it somthing fierce. I haven't been able to make the Wednesday night games at my FLGS of late. I'll go into the reasons in my next post. Until then, the RPG dream never dies. My return to the table-top is inevitable! Happy gaming, folks.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Early-Morning Clarity, Personal Growth, and Roleplaying - Part 1

Have you ever experienced the phenomenon where, in the moments after you wake up in the morning, the first thoughts that come to your mind seem so pure and clear? In addition, do you suspect that those thoughts are manifestations of your truest, deepest desires? In other words, these thoughts may be what you truly want with regard to some aspect of your life, but most of the time they are buried under all of the other thoughts, feelings, and various mental distractions of your daily life.

I believe I woke up on a recent morning with one of those moments of clarity. At least, I think that's what happened. I want to farm this whole thought process out to you, my fellow RPG bloggers in the great virtual hive-mind that is the Internet. I want your thoughts, advice, feedback, ridicule, whatever. This is going to be a bit long, so I'm breaking it up into two posts. Here goes:

For some reason, I just haven't been feeling fully satisfied of late when it comes to the rule systems I've been considering or actually using. OF COURSE, I am entertaining the possibility that this lack of satisfaction with any of the rule systems that I've been reading/using of late is due to some lack of vision on my part, some lack of thought-clarity.

Anyway, I've been feeling that there needs to be an RPG, and specifically a fantasy RPG similar to D&D, for busy adults. Perhaps this theoretical RPG would somehow facilitate play for those who can meet only infrequently, and who can't spend copious amounts of time on session prep.

Now, I do in fact believe that the continuity and cohesion of a particular campaign depends a lot on the GM's attention to detail, and not on the system being used. Does the GM take the right amount of notes during sessions so that he/she creates a firm bridge between sessions? For me, if I can't maintain this session cohesion, I don't feel like I'm doing right by my campaign and, most importantly, my players.
Back to this RPG for busy adults concept. Here's what I'm thinking currently, stream-of-consciousness style:

Perhaps the biggest concern I've had of late is the "damage" long breaks between game sessions can inflict upon a campaign. As a busy adult, I've come to believe that the sometimes long absenses from the table-top result in an increase in time needed for players to level up. Is there an RPG with an advancement system that doesn't suffer from long absenses from the campaign? Is there an RPG that will have just the right advancement system that will give satisfying goals for players and allow them to steadily advance despite the potential for long breaks between game sessions?

I don't want to keep track of arrows, torches, sling bullets, rations, etc. And as a matter of fact, I don't want my players to keep track of the usual "consumables." Yes, this is my heretical disdain for resource management. Heck, I want lack of resources to crop up unexpectedly.

I also don't want to keep track of time, miles traveled, etc.

I DO want to deal with plot hooks, player decisions, and subsequent consequences.

I'm a busy adult who believes (perhaps wrongly or rightly) that he doesn't have time to keep track of the resource management, but believes that the tension that stems from said management can still be created using the right system...or perhaps using a system right!

I want to focus on the complex results of the interplay between GM and players. I prefer to focus on fostering the cooperative story that the players and I are creating.

When I talk about a story game, my definition is one that doesn't involve me creating the RPG equivalent of a "novel" through which I will railroad my players. I am not a frustrated novelist. I'm a GM running roleplaying games. Story comes from me presenting a world and events in that world, and giving players knowledge of the events in that world (or at least some of those events). This knowledge will come in a variety of ways: rumors in the tavern, intelligence from thieves, braggadocio of mercenaries, whispers of courtiers, declarations from enemies, scribblings on scrolls and in tomes, and on and on and on. Then, the players will decide which of these sounds appealing to them, and they will head off in search of adventure. And part of the joy of this is that I will have to adapt, as best I can, to their whims. I will do my best to react and give them consequences, both "good" and "bad," that will interest, intrigue, engage, titillate, horrify, bedevil, ensnare, and reward them.

As I said above, I don't want my players to have to do bookkeeping. I know there can be joy in the bookkeeping, but that's a different style of play than I am currently interested in. I was interested in the past, but right now I am not. Why? Well, again, I feel sometimes overwhelmed when dealing in-session with I feel like a nanny when I ask players to "mark off that arrow you just fired" or "reduce your mana for that spell." I don't want to be bothered.

I suppose I can get this from any RPG system if necessary, I just need to change my perception. Or is there a system out there that facilitates the plot focus that I'm seeking, but somehow brings the tension of resource management to the table? Is this system called Torchbearer or Dungeon World?

Ok, I'm not all that happy about how coherent this post is...but I think I got the gist across. I feel like I've had a cronic lack of clarity in my writings of late...but that's for the next post. In the meantime, your comments are welcome.

Friday, October 4, 2013

End-of-Week Elmore Musings/Navel Gazing (10/4/13)

Tika wields her +1 frying pan with skill!
Well, after a month of potentially inane and definitely self-serving meme posts, I'm back to End-of-Week Elmore! This time around, I'd like to inject a bit of what I've been thinking about of late, when it comes to me and roleplaying. I'm definitely going to elaborate next week on these subjects, but I wanted to at least give a taste of what's to come.
First of all, I love Dragonlance, and I don't care who knows! I love it so much that I'm thinking it's time I took the next logical step, and make my blog into something of an online bastion of Dragonlance support, positivity, etc.
I know the arguments put forth by the Dragonlance "haters," and I understand where they're coming from: Sure, the Dragonlance modules back in the day were railroady, some of the races (*cough*kender*cough*) are annoying (I believe my long-time hatred of gnomes stems from my exasperation with Krynn's tinker gnomes), etc. The novel series has been very soap-opera at times, and is a large and looming spectre that hangs over would-be Dragonlance DMs. On and on.
Sure, I understand all that. But those things mentioned above can be overcome. Like any other published campaign world, you can take Dragonlance and you can tweak it to your own version of the setting. Just do it, stop crying.
Don't like the whole "test" concept for wizards of High Sorcery? The mages in your version of Krynn abolished it. Boom, done. Don't like the proliferation of dragons in the setting? Uh, have dragons retreat back to the fringes of the world. Simple. So, ultimately, when you start that Dragonlance campaign, you let any players that are huge fans of the setting/novels know what changes you have made so as to temper expectations. 'Nuff said.
The other thing on my mind of late has to do with my desire to find a game system suitable for the needs of the busy adult roleplayer. I need to elaborate on this, but suffice to say that I know that, technically, any RPG can be tweaked/adjusted/house rules/otherwise utilized to suit the needs of a group that can't meet all that often, or sometimes goes through long spells of inability to meet.
However, what about a system actually created to facilitate play by a group that meets infrequently and/or also has a mix of players that can change from week to week? What about a system that allows some sort of progression by players so that they have milestones/goals for which to strive, but that doesn't have to be as "long" of a slog as wading through thousands upon thousands of XP points to advance? What about a system that gives characters access to abilities that they might have from their early adventuring careers right on through to when they become veterans, but just have degrees of danger at lower "levels" (if that even makes sense to you).
All of this makes me think of JB's urging that roleplayers create their own "D&D Mine." And it's also the reason I've been bugging him about the next game he's going to create ;-)
ANYway, I'll elaborate on all of this next week. Until then, happy gaming folks!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

The Transition of Anthony to October

Welcome, once again, to the best month of the year. As is my annual October ritual, I set aside time to get my fix of Lovecraft. Despite the title of this post, I'm actually going to be delving into my Del Rey collection of the Dream Cycle of H.P. Lovecraft initially, instead of The Roal to Madness collection. Not that I haven't read most of these stories sometime in the past, but as I'm sure you can relate, it's nice to revisit the old pathways into the lands of dread...  

So, I'll see you somewhere in Dreamland, fellow wanderers...